“Ignorance is bliss” is a common phrase in Western culture.
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” is a phrase I once saw on a bumper sticker. I could google its origin, but .. meh. Lol. (I will remain ignorant about it! haha)
Now, I think the two phrases are linked….
Stating that ignorance is bliss implies that being knowledgeable is painful.
Stating you are not paying attention if you are not outraged implies that, well, being knowledgeable is, well, painful or outrageous.
When I studied for my Bachelor’s degree, and to a lesser extent for my Master’s, I really resonated with the outrage statement. When a person pays careful attention to what humans do, to each other, to the earth, to animals….there is lots of joy, yes, but also lots of horror, lots of outrage. That outrage is hard to let go of. When I was more ignorant of the horrors of the world, it was a more blissful place, in my little bubble, lol.
Now, I think it is obvious that ignorance isn’t the answer, lol. (It makes me think of Sam Malone from the TV show Cheers when he gave advice to Woody: ‘Ignore the problem. It will go away’)
So what do we do? It is easy to fall into a pit of hopelessness, despair and apathy.
Well, one thing is to never discount the joys, the triumphs, that occur in the world. The miracles, the sacrifices, the love… It is easy to overlook that when horrors are occurring. That is natural. If a person helps bring an animal back to life versus when a person kills an animal out of ‘fun’, it is natural to focus on the disturbing, the horror… the problem. We should focus on the problems. But the problems can become overwhelming. So we need to ensure we focus enough on the good, the positive, the love in the world.
Well, a Buddhist vows to save all beings from suffering. How can we do that?! We must take good care of ourselves, save our own selves, then bring that freedom into the world.
It is said that when the Buddha realized his Enlightened nature, the whole world became Enlightened. Now, since the Buddha’s time, there have been great horrors…surely not all beings are enlightened, are they?!
Yes and no. We are all already Buddhas, and enlightenment is never separate from us. Where could it go?! Lol.
Ignorance is not bliss and paying attention is not outrageous. Let us meditate on that. By that, I simply mean, let’s just think about that.